EGAN, 1999. Children talking about designing: how do young children perceive the functions/uses of drawing as part of the design process? IDATER 1999 Conference, Loughborough: Loughborough University
The directive to draw initial ideas on paper is widely used by teachers as a strategy to set children off in thinking about a designing and making task. In spite of much useful guidance from sources such as DATA, NAIDT and others, many teachers still express concern that children, when asked to model their ideas by drawing them, make drawings which do not clearly relate to the product which they subsequently make.
This paper explores and compares the responses of children in two Year 1 classes in different schools. In each class children were offered an initial discussion of the design brief by the teacher, followed by the instruction to draw their first thoughts. The writer observed the children during this phase of the work, and then encouraged them in individual interviews to reflect upon how they thought they would use the drawings that they had made. The children's responses show a clear difference in sophistication of design thinking between the two groups, but also suggest that the function of drawing as a part of design activity is opaque to most children at this stage, and that they may need different approaches to supporting the development of design thinking through 2-D modelling.